The Tension of Motherhood

When the great composer Mozart was young, he liked to play a cruel trick on his father, Leopold.  He would come home at night after his father was in bed, go to the piano and begin playing loudly.  Note by note he would play a scale, getting slower and louder as he got higher… and then he would stop, just one note short, and go to bed.

Old Leopold would go crazy, tossing and turning as that unfinished scale haunted his dreams. Eventually he would get up, stumble to the piano to plunk out that last note, then return to bed in peace.

There’s something extremely satisfying about resolving what’s unfinished, yet when we step back and look at life, much of it is in process.  The years of motherhood are the middle of the story, and if we’re honest, it can be hard to cherish the dissonance that fills the days and years.

There’s a constant temptation to focus on the unfinished notes of each day.  The laundry sits, waiting to be folded.  The weeds grow higher than the flowers.  The floor needed vacuuming… yesterday.  The missed appointment. Underneath the surface lies even deeper dissonance as we wrestle with grief as it washes over us like waves in the ocean. We question if we’re raising our children with the right values.  We click through the headlines, overwhelmed by the violence and disunity.  We respond in frustration toward those closest to us when we should reach out for a hug.

As Moms, we live in the space between the notes.  Unlike Mozart’s father, we don’t have the luxury of hitting that one last note that resolves it all. So how do we learn to treasure these years raising children, when so much around us seems unsettled? How can we cherish what we have instead of focusing on we don’t?

My fourth baby was born just thirteen months after we buried her big sister.  For all the joy and healing she brought to our lives, we were still living in such deep grief.  I remember so well early morning feedings, cradling my newborn close while the tears ran down my cheeks as I longed for the child I had buried.  I had so many unanswered questions.  I was torn between the joy of new life and the sorrow of raising a family who would be forever incomplete.

Sarah Damaska
Sarah lives in the Thumb of Michigan with her husband + 3 kids, stirring the soup, folding the laundry and sitting at the baseball games.  She drinks her coffee with a bit of cream and if you check her bag, you’ll find a book (or three), just in case. She writes on hope & sorrow at .

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